Acquired Brain Injury — ABI

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth and is not hereditary, congenital, or degenerative. Causes of ABI include stroke, tumors, blood clots, traumatic brain injury, seizures, toxic exposures, infections, metabolic disorders, neurotoxic poisoning and lack of oxygen to the brain.

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the US, with 1 in every 20 deaths attributed to this type of ABI. Early recognition and treatment is critical. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking are all associated with higher risk for stroke. However, for many other types of ABI, it is hard to gauge risk factors, and otherwise healthy adults may experience brain bleeds from congenital conditions, infections like meningitis, or brain tumors.

Effects of ABI vary widely across types, but also across people, so that no two brain injuries are alike. Generally, people with ABI may have difficulty with some or all of the following:

  • Cognitive problems, such as difficulty with memory, organizing thoughts, or paying attention;
  • Physical problems, including weakness or spasticity;
  • Emotional problems, like depression, anxiety, apathy, or low self-esteem;
  • Behavioral problems, such as poor inhibition, or acting erratically.